You update your phone every few years with better tech, right? So why not do the same with the electric razor you use for your daily shave. Here is everything you need to know about what’s at the cutting edge of shavers right now.
Foil shavers work with a block of razor blades under a foil head punctured with holes. The blades vibrate at high speed to cut hairs while the holes in the foil lift the hairs from the skin so they are cut away closely.
There is a new(ish) type of men’s shaver on the block that you should know about as it is a genuine game changer. Single-blade shavers combine the best of cartridge varieties with their electric counterparts. In other words, the oscillating head powers a single cutting surface that is kinder on the skin than foils or rotary coils. Better still, the blades can be replaced once they lose their edge, which is something you can’t say about rotary or foil shavers. They are charged from the mains and can be used wet or dry.
There are a bunch of factors to consider here, but what it really comes down to is skin sensitivity, hair type and shaving frequency. Whichever genre you go for, look for a pivoting head that follows the contours of your face for a smoother finish. To put it another way, you want a neck that swivels on the shaver so yours doesn’t have to!
If you have skin that is not particularly sensitive and medium to coarse hair density, go for a rotary. These are also recommended for people who don’t shave every day as it gives the skin a chance to recover.
Back in the day, electric shavers were powered by either disposable batteries or a cord plugged into the wall. The first of these, however, was not great for the environment and diminished in performance as the batteries faded, resulting in nicks and scratches. The second meant you were limited by the length of the cord itself, which meant that it could be difficult to manoeuvre the shaver around your head.
We’ve gone wireless everywhere else in our lives and shavers have followed the trend. Some now sit in their own cradle, which serves as a charging device when not in use, while others simply plug into the wall. Which is another way of saying, they’re ready to go when you need them. Generally speaking, 90 minutes of charging time will get you an hour of run time. Look for Li-ion batteries, which provide shorter charging times for longer results.
If you have sensitive skin or are switching from razor blades, throwing an electric shaver straight onto your hairy face can feel rough or cause those red welts we’ve all sported at some time. Lubrication is paramount. This could be as simple as water or your favourite shaving foam and you will need a wet/dry shaver. Designed to be used in the shower or at the sink, look for one encased in waterproof rubber with an ergonomic grip so that it doesn’t slip in your hands when in use. And just a grooming tip for shower shavers – while you will save time by doubling up, always check in the mirror that you haven’t missed any spots by mistake and created an inadvertent soul patch.
To ensure your shaver performs at its peak for as long as possible, a bit of maintenance is mandatory. An accumulation of fine bristles can clog the mechanism quicker than you can say ‘shaving rash’. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix as some manufacturers have tweaked their designs so they can be flushed clear with nothing more than running water. Others have opted for one-touch latches that flip open the shaver heads for cleaning with water. Give it a clean after every use and the razor will reward you with years of service.
“As grooming editor of GQ, I’ve tried hundreds of electric shavers and just like other types of tech, the next generation provides enhanced results. In this case, super-smooth skin, less irritation and longer cord-free battery life.” – David Smiedt, GQ Grooming Editor
Remember those late night TV ads where they yelled, “But wait, there’s more”? The mantra applies to electric shavers, as manufacturers have responded to demands for customisation options and sharp finishes once only reserved for the barber’s. These come in especially handy for trimming sideburns or that moustache you’re going to be sporting for Movember. They work in one of two ways – some come in the form of an attachment you clip onto the electric shaver, while others have an in-built pop-up trimmer.
There’s some serious value to be had when it comes to shavers, with entry-level foil varieties starting at around the $40 mark. For the price of two lobsters – as in a couple of $20 notes – you’ll score stainless-steel blades, an anti-slip grip, cordless operation and even a pop-up blade for precise trimming.
Entry-level rotary shavers generally cost a bit more thanks to an increased number of moving parts. To continue the analogy, you’ll be looking at around a pineapple and a lobster – aka $70 – for a solid starter rotary shaver. At this price, you can expect a trio of pivoting heads, cordless operation and 100 percent waterproof operation. From this point, both varieties tend to jump up in asking prices of $20 to $30, with an increase in battery power, display variety and functionality. At the top end of town, you’re looking at anywhere above $199 and $284.
Like the majority of electronic products, shavers also come with warranties in case yours gives up the ghost – hopefully not halfway through a shave. Industry standard is about two years provided by the manufacturer, but be sure to hold onto any receipts for proof of purchase, and don’t throw out the packaging and leaflets that came with the razor.